The kids are all heading back to school and everyone is working back into a more hectic and regimented schedule.  That can mean for many of us, less time to prepare meals.  This spaghetti bake was a big hit with my boys as it is saucy and flavorful and I even managed to sneak in some greens!  It also has the benefit of being a great make-ahead meal that heats up very well.

Yield 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 lb mild Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 24 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 6 cups sliced mushrooms (shiitake or cremini)
  • 8 ounces ricotta
  • 10 ounces baby kale or spinach
  • 2 cups  mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch chopped basil, plus extra leaves for garnish
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Directions:

 In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage and onion, crumbling meat, until sausage is browned. Add garlic and mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring frequently until  mushrooms have released their juices. Pour in crushed tomatoes, vodka and oregano and season to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce heat; cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, allowing flavors to meld.
While sauce is simmering, preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente texture. Drain pasta and spray a 13x 9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Just ere assembling, stir in kale to sauce to wilt, along with ricotta.  Finally stir in chopped basil.  Combine sauce with spaghetti.  Take half of spaghetti and place in prepared baking dish.  over with half of shredded mozzarella, then add remaining spaghetti to the dish and layer with remaining mozzarella and parmesan, making sure sauce is well distributed.  (Dish can be covered at this point and refrigerated until ready to reheat).  Cover and bake for about 30 minutes or a bit longer if refrigerated before hand).  If you like a crispier top, uncover and raise temp to 375 and bake another 10 minutes, until lightly browned.  Let stand a few minutes, before serving.  Garnish with basil leaves if desired. Enjoy.